Friday, 27 March 2015

Goodluck Jonathan or Muhammadu Buhari...My Take (Final Part)

 3. Irregular Electric Power and Unemployment

Goodluck Jonathan

Tackling unemployment and irregular electric power is basically an issue of policies backed by strategies; same goes for improving the economy, educational sector, transportation sector, healthcare delivery, etc. Goodluck Jonathan, to his credit, 'restored' the moribund Nigerian Rail system although there is still a long way to go; under his watch our economy is said to be the largest in Africa; this has however been contested by economists who believe that current economic statistics paint a false and glorified picture of Nigeria's true economic state.

Under GEJ, power generation hit 4500 megawatts in 2012 -the highest since 1999; however, latest reports show that just about 3,346 megawatts is generated currently. This is despite having an installed capacity of between 6, 000 to 7,000MW which is by the way too meagre to serve a population of 170 million Nigerians. The generation of power below installed capacity has been ascribed to insufficient transmission of natural gas to the power plants which are 80% reliant on gas. This insufficient transmission has been blamed on inadequate gas pipelines, the vandalism of the little we do have, and the disconnect between the power and gas sectors.

As six new power plants have been built and four about to be completed; power generation capacity is set to increase no matter how minutely. The generation capacity has remained GEJ’s focus even in his campaign so far. However, the truth is even if Nigeria had an optimal number of power plants; we can only be said to be 'potentially able' to generate so-so-so megawatts or even gigawatt until we have adequate transmission of gas to the power plants. The power plants are important, but what really is the importance of a car parked in the garage, not fuelled and not driven?

The provision of constant electric power is linked to generation of employment; this is a fact that is not lost on GEJ. When it comes to alleviating unemployment, perhaps one of GEJ's most memorable campaign lines was the gaffe "we will create jobs and unemployment". Obviously it was a slip of the tongue and he never meant that; but could that be an unfortunate truth? In 2014, World Bank's report on Nigeria's economy revealed that the country is more beleaguered by underemployment than unemployment. Most Nigerians just cannot afford to stay idle and must make a living...this they do mainly by engaging in low productivity and low paying jobs. After all, it is generally believed that half a loaf of bread is better than none; and that there is always a job available depending on what it is you are willing to do. Look around you, you will see that graduate with good results making a living as an Okada or Keke rider when he would have been more valuable in a bank; you shall see that Physics graduate selling curtains in the market; even Dangote in 2013 disclosed that PhD and MBA holders were among applicants who were hoping to be truck drivers in his company.

GEJ introduced a number of projects to check unemployment amongst which are the Agricultural transformation Agenda as supported by the Commercial Agricultural credit scheme which is aimed at creating up to 3.5 million jobs; YouWin aimed at creating 80,000 to 110,000 jobs within 3 years and SURE-P Graduate Internship scheme aimed at absorbing 50,000 graduates who will work as apprentices in select private/public firms with the purpose of developing skills that will lead to self-employment. Despite all these, unemployment rate has risen from 23.9% in 2011 to 25% in 2014. Obviously, GEJ is concerned about the rate of unemployment and has made honest efforts to alleviate the situation; however, these efforts can be best referred to as tiny sips from the ocean of unemployment.

Buhari

Buhari and his campaign team are not known to shy away from making bogus promises without plans as to how they will be achieved. Although I cannot confirm these, Buhari was said to have promised to ensure that the Nigerian Naira equals the US Dollar in value when he becomes president, and also to stabilise global oil price...though very silly, if he had really said so, no one reported on how he intends achieving them.

To the claims I am sure he did make; Buhari had promised generate 20,000MW within four years if elected President. Going by the discussions I made under GEJ, Buhari will not only have to build more power plants, he would also have to ensure that there is adequate supply of natural gas to these power plants all within 4 years. The sad news is that experts believe that due to the economic climate and insufficient gas pipelines; it may take up to the year 2020 for Nigeria to transmit enough gas that will generate just 9,000 MW as it takes 4-5 years to build a gas pipeline. How Buhari intends to generate 20,000MW in just 4 years is what we do not know. Maybe through harnessing alternative sources of energy like coal, wind and solar…I am not sure.

During his campaign, Buhari promised that under his government, more job opportunities will be provided to both uneducated and educated Nigerians. He did mention the use of Agriculture as means of job creation but how this will defer and work better than what GEJ is presently doing is what he never mentioned. Another popular campaign promise was the revitalisation of Enugu coal through which he will generate over 1,000,000 jobs. All these promises have been made without consideration to how they will be achieved and the financial implication which is very vital considering the fact that we should be activating austerity measures due to the global plummeting of oil price.

The verdict

Presently, Buhari isn't any worse than GEJ was in terms of his campaign promises in 2011. He had promised back then to ensure we had at least 16,000MW by 2013; it is March of 2015 now and we are stuck at 3,346 MW. Right now, GEJ knows better than to make sure bogus claims because those previously made were never achieved. Therefore, if I were to choose between GEJ and Buhari solely based who will be more effective in tackling inadequate power supply and unemployment; I will pick GEJ for his experience which increases the chances that he may improve things within the next four years and not for the fact that I do think he will solve these problems.

Buhari is presently where GEJ was in 2011 and is very naive as his claims have shown. His refusal to engage in a debate and his inability to directly answer questions from the public in a town hall meeting instead of relying on Tinubu and Fashola tell me he has no concrete plans as it concerns bringing change to Nigeria not to talk of plans that may fail. 

Who you should vote for tomorrow

With all due respect to the other contestants whose manifesto and campaign promises I never really got to know about, it is likely that the election will be won between one of GEJ and Buhari. Having followed these men as closely as I could, one thing I am sure about is that neither of them is the best Nigeria can offer; but since I have to choose between them, I will not go for a 78 year old man whom even Fashola his supporter - in all honesty - must believe is too old to lead Nigeria; after all, the same Fashola berated Jimi Agbaje as being too old at 58 to lead Lagos state. Buhari is at the stage where he is almost slurring and rather forgetful that I think the only thing he does remember now is that he wants to be President. This isn't just about who occupies the Aso Rock but also about who represents us in the international community. If Nigeria were a hermit Country like North Korea, then we can afford to field a anyone we wanted, even if he is senile; but for a country with serious international relations, it will rather be too silly to have as President a man that is almost incomprehensible in speech, out of touch with modernity, too forgetful and whose basic academic qualification is in doubt.

There is really nothing new I see Buhari bringing to the table apart from his claim of being an anti-corruption champion which is really debatable going by the fact that he doesn't see Abacha as having looted Nigeria till date and that he is being sponsored and dragged to Aso Rock by none other than Tinubu. In Buhari I see another Mugabe, with the only difference being that whilst Mugabe clings onto power with nothing else to offer, Buhari is desperate to attain power with nothing new to offer. The Aso Rock shouldn't be an old people's home and Buhari should rather crown himself a 'statesman' as Obasanjo and Babangida his ageing colleagues have done.

That Buhari isn't the right man doesn't make GEJ the one either. In my opinion GEJ has been glorified by Buhari; he really does deserve to be voted out especially for the high rate of corruption which I don’t see abating no matter his claims at digitalising the way government carries out and engages in business. However, APC got it all wrong by fielding someone who doesn't deserve to replace GEJ; that we want GEJ out doesn’t mean we have to accept whoever is thrown at us.

We want change, but we must pursue it as citizens of this country. The kind of change we need isn't from GEJ to Buhari nor from PDP to APC...it is a change that comes from within each and everyone of us, a change that makes us really patriotic and passionate about Nigeria and a change that sees us break the shackles that hold us back from being truly a great Nation despite the extant capacity of being just that. If we vote GEJ into power for the next four years, we wouldn't have voted in a Messiah; however we would have avoided the backwardness that I am so sure would have been the case with a man who remembers nothing apart from the fact that he wants to be President.

#VoteWisely #ElectionNotWar #VoteNotFight #OneNigeria

The End.

The Oracle has Spoken!!